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Old 07-28-2008, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Fairbanks, AK...formerly Kentucky
631 posts, read 1,666,565 times
Reputation: 466

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I have a close family member that has joined up and been serving for over a year now. We used to be very close but his personality has changed drastically since enlisting and he seems to slowly be pulling away from family and friends. Is this normal? Should I just give him his space or should I try to keep in contact and keep the lines of communication going? For those of you that have served or are currently serving was this your experience when you first joined up? He got to come home for a break recently and it was like being around a completely different person. The gentle fun loving person is now angry and quiet. I want to be there and offer support but not really sure what to do next.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:52 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,719 posts, read 47,472,880 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue_eyedgirl View Post
I have a close family member that has joined up and been serving for over a year now. We used to be very close but his personality has changed drastically since enlisting and he seems to slowly be pulling away from family and friends. Is this normal? Should I just give him his space or should I try to keep in contact and keep the lines of communication going? For those of you that have served or are currently serving was this your experience when you first joined up? He got to come home for a break recently and it was like being around a completely different person. The gentle fun loving person is now angry and quiet. I want to be there and offer support but not really sure what to do next.

Going home once a year, during my annual leave, was hard for me.

I did not fit in any longer, and everyone was busy.

I tried once a year to visit and spend time with my siblings and parents. Though my family are primarily farmers, and had no real connection to the military. I got a lot of grief for being in the military and avoiding a 'real job'.

At family dinners I would be asked questions about where I was stationed and what I was doing. So I would explain my job and what I had been doing. then after I was done. They would laugh and agree that I had a great imagination.

Which I took to understand that they had formed the mindset that I was lying to them.

I think that by reading the newspaper funny-pages with Beetle Bailey each week, they had a definite idea of what the military life is like, and my 'stories' did not agree with their idea of military life.

Over the decades we did drift apart.

Now in my retirement, I still have no credibility with my siblings or parents.

'Beetle Bailey' tells it like it is, and anyone who says different must be lying.

I am not close to my family.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:35 AM
 
3,842 posts, read 9,239,863 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue_eyedgirl View Post
I have a close family member that has joined up and been serving for over a year now. We used to be very close but his personality has changed drastically since enlisting and he seems to slowly be pulling away from family and friends. Is this normal? Should I just give him his space or should I try to keep in contact and keep the lines of communication going? For those of you that have served or are currently serving was this your experience when you first joined up? He got to come home for a break recently and it was like being around a completely different person. The gentle fun loving person is now angry and quiet. I want to be there and offer support but not really sure what to do next.
Maybe he is a completely different person.

I know that it always took me some time to readjust to the civilian world when I would go on leave & away from post/military town.

It has taken my dh quite some time to readjust. He had quite a hard time readjusting after Iraq. His company lost quite a few men & to this day (over 2 years later) he still struggles with many "issues" people in the civilian world have,etc.

Your best bet is to just understand that he is part of something that many times unless you were part of it cannot completely grasp the magnitude of.

Some people do just fine when they are on leave or after they join. Others do struggle. Some of the strugglers had issues PRIOR to joining & the military only accelerates them. It depends.

Time & patience.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:53 AM
 
6,351 posts, read 18,878,100 times
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Blue_eyedgirl, there's not much I can add to what Forest Beekeeper and 121804 have posted; good info. The military really is like no other job or experience in the world. Maybe overwhelming. Maybe just an awesome experience. This may sound really goofy, but my loving bride and I once went on a tour of the Czar's treasures in Saint Petersburg. There were times when I daydreamed about launching jets or something I'd done on base. Now, I did really enjoy our tour. And I don't think I was SO wrapped up in my daydreaming that our time together suffered. But maybe she noticed it, too...

I'm guessing that, as time goes on and he gets more into a military "routine" (and older and more mature) your relationship will improve. And when he leaves the service, it will be easier to relate to the civilians in his life. (I'm afraid you'll never take the "G.I." out of him, though...

I'd definitely keep the lines open. It won't hurt. I DO know that I sure enjoyed mail from home when I was overseas (and this was before email)

Blue_eyedgirl, all the best to you and your military family member! We're all proud of his service and appreciate the sacrifices that family members make, too!
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Old 07-31-2008, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Va Beach
3,508 posts, read 11,897,828 times
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I'm ex military and yes, I changed. I am more regimented, more organized and enjoy my personal time as I was and still am (DOD) around alot of people all day. The last time I was home was 9 years ago. I have a hard time going back home, because I have nothing in common with anyone back there. My parents' friends don't even know who I am, they introduce me each time. My son is in the Air Force and I am so glad he followed my lead. He is more mature, has friends and doing things a young man should do vice what other young men his age who are not in the military are doing. He has a career that he can be proud of and can continue his college education that he isn't going to be paying the rest of his life for.
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Old 07-31-2008, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,719 posts, read 47,472,880 times
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During my twilight tour, we lived in Italy. We had long discussions about where to retire to. I no longer felt 'connected' to anyone or anyplace where I grew up. Neither did my Dw. So we felt no pull to draw us back to either of our hometowns. Had either of us had any thing that would have emotionally drawn us to go there we would have.

So we faced the tasking of choosing where to retire, without the basis of any previous connection to any places.

We have since gone back to my hometown. Once for my eldest sister's funeral. I saw many of my relatives, cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews. But we had no basis for conversation. They find it hard to wrap their minds around the idea that life exists outside of their valley.

I also went back for my 25th high school re-union. It was fascinating to sit in a room with 200 other people of nearly my same exact age, to compare how each have aged. I was the only person in the room with a pension [Let alone who was living on a pension]. they were focused on jobs, children and grand children. Few of them had any awareness that 'retirement' might lay ahead in their futures. They were so focused on trying to pay the bills, the idea that someone might be debt-free and capable of supporting themselves from their pension and investments; was outside of their thinking.
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Old 07-31-2008, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Fairbanks, AK...formerly Kentucky
631 posts, read 1,666,565 times
Reputation: 466
Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and input. It has been an eye opener for me. I think I can understand his emotional distance a little better now. I believe that he is a different person now and we need to get to know this new person instead of expecting him to be the same one who left here. I also think that everyone may have joked around with him a little too much during the visit and he may have felt disrespected. I hope that isn't the case but its my gut instinct. There is going to have to be a balance of keeping him connected to family and friends but still giving him space to explore his career and new life. I am just more proud of this young man than I could ever put into words and don't want him to ever feel that he isn't loved, cared for and respected by his friends and family. Again I thank all of you for sharing your stories!
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:01 AM
 
Location: Maryland
1,667 posts, read 8,149,719 times
Reputation: 1593
Here's how I used to do it. My civilian girlfriend would keep a "journal" about what was happening (new business in town, someone's marriage, gossip) so I could stay informed and feel like I knew what was going on. My military career involved destroying garbage with automatic weapons so the enemy wouldn't find information, comparing taverns in Europe with the Caribbean, helping a co-worker with life-threatening injury... It's two different worlds and one can loose touch with the stateside "normal" life. Keep your journal/diary very personal and let your military friend/family read it often.
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Old 09-04-2008, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Eastern Kentucky
1,237 posts, read 2,640,207 times
Reputation: 1262
Blue eyed girl,
Even though it's been several years, I rmember my first leave. I looked forward to it for so long, but when I got home I felt out of place, even with my family whom I love dearly. The military is a different world and changes you so much. That said, keep the letters going. Many times there seems to be a lot of 'dust' and 'smoke' in the air at mail call. Those cards and letters are what keeps most of our service men and women going even though we don't write back as often as we should. Thank you for caring enough to post this.
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Old 09-05-2008, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Indy
664 posts, read 2,572,471 times
Reputation: 406
Blue eyed girl,

If your gut instinct tells you one thing, listen to it. Like has been said, your brother is now a different person. Trust me when I say this: If he was shy, he is not now. Outright ask him if he felt disrespected the last time he was home. One thing I have found to be a universal truth with any service is that you ask a soldier/service member what they think, they will tell you outright. They will not beat around the bush or hint at the answer. They will be blunt to the point of rudeness. All you have to do is ask.
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